The organic food market has taken the western world by storm in the last few years and only seems to be growing in popularity. After the alarming increase in obesity rates over the past few decades, health and nutrition have become a priority for many people. So what is organic produce and how does it benefit us and the environment?
Organic food means that the produce used has been grown and harvested without the use of chemical pesticides, artificial fertilisers and do dot use genetically modified (GM) components or expose food to irradiation. Organic meat products are also free of antibiotics, steroids, growth and hormone drugs. Why is this important? Well 100 years ago all food was organic. Farming and production of goods has grown exponentially in the last century with increases in populations, trade and export. But the huge rise in demand has also resulted in unsustainable and dangerous innovations such as harsh chemical pesticides and drugs to make animals grow quicker and larger. As growth in knowledge of just how these chemicals are harmful not only to the environment but potentially ourselves and inhumane farming practices more and more people have demanded alternatives.
Organic farming is a regulated industry that ensures crops are managed with natural methods and are also more committed to sustainable methods. They practice farming methods which work in harmony with natural ecosystems, including conserving water, soil and energy, and using renewable resources and natural farming cycles. Chemical farming can cause soil infertility, lead to blue water algae in wash off areas such as rivers and lakes, and even after washing can contain toxins which are consumed by humans.
There is concern as well as to the long term affects of genetically modified foods, foods which have been altered at the gene level for aesthetic, size or quality results. Organic meat products also practice humane farming such as free-range, and ensure the health of the animal hasn't been subjected to deforming drugs.
Our consumption of foods and methods of farming has changed vastly over the last century. Where we previously at fresh foods only from local suppliers, most products we consume have undergone several levels of processing where numerous additives such as salt, sugars, preservatives and flavours are added. Some products such as soft-drink contain no natural products! The methods of farming, not only include inhumane animal practices, extensive use of pesticides, but in many parts of the world slave and low-income labour. Especially in additive products such as palm oil and household favourites tea and coffee.
The huge increase in the organic trade is a clear sign that the votes we make with our buying choices do make a difference! So look out for organic, free-range and locally produced items to support healthier, sustainable and humane choices!